We all know that perfect love casts out fear. We know it although we don’t often apply it. We mostly know that perfect fear casts out love. In any institution or organisation, the moment that suspicion reigns and the assumption that everything is zero sum becomes dominant (that is to say that some else’s gain must be my loss, we can’t both flourish) that institution will be increasingly dominated by fear. It is an old problem in game theory. The moment at which something is zero sum, players stop looking so much at their objectives and increasingly look at each other. The more they look at each other, the more they are dominated by fear and the less they are able to focus on their objectives.From the Church of England House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage:
The Church of England is not a closed system, nor is the Anglican Communion and most certainly nor is the Church catholic and universal. It is not a closed system because God is involved and where he is involved there is no limit to what can happen, and no limit to human flourishing. His abundant love overwhelms us when we make space to flood into our own lives, into institutions and systems.
20. The 2005 pastoral statement said that it would not be right to produce an authorized public liturgy in connection with the registering of civil partnerships and that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who registered civil partnerships. The House did not wish, however, to interfere with the clergy's pastoral discretion about when more informal kind of prayer, at the request of the couple, might be appropriate in the light of the circumstances. The College made clear on 27 January that, just as the Church of England's doctrine of marriage remains the same, so its pastoral and liturgical practice also remains unchanged.The letter from the House of Bishops is the kind of doublespeak that is soul-destroying to LGBT church members and to those who support their full inclusion in the life of the church. As a fellow Anglican, I read the letter with shock and dismay. I can only imagine the scope of the fear within the House of Bishops that would lead them to approve sending out such a letter.
21. The same approach as commended in the 2005 statement should therefore apply to couples who enter same-sex marriage, on the assumption that any prayer will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the church's teaching and their reasons for departing from it. Services of blessing should not be provided. Clergy should respond pastorally and sensitively in other ways.
Not only will same sex marriages services be banned in the Church of England, but clergy will not be allowed to "provide services of blessing" to same sex couples who marry but will rather be restricted to "an informal kind of prayer", preceded by a pastoral discussion about why they must follow the church's teaching and settle for something less. Like Tina Turner, I ask, "What's love got to do with it?" How will the rules allow for flourishing of LGBT persons in the church?
But, as Archbishop Welby says in his address, "... because God is involved and where he is involved there is no limit to what can happen...", who knows but that when the prayers are said, God will do as God chooses and - Gasp! - provide a blessing, despite the ban by the church. The phrase itself, "an informal kind of prayer", is a shriveled manner of speaking about invoking the God of abundant and overflowing love. It seems to me idolatrous to attempt to limit the blessings of God for those the House of Bishops deems not quite worthy to receive the full blessing.
Episcopal priest, Tobias Haller, wonders why the English bishops did not include a reference to Article XXXII of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England, rather than The Lambeth Conference of 1998.
Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God's Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.In 2005, The Guardian published an article titled "Stop the Denial" by Richard Haggis, a priest serving in a London parish:
Many of us long for the sort of union that could be marked by a public ceremony and decent and proper civil rights (from which the bishops have sought to exempt us for too long through their powerful position in the House of Lords). I very much hope to use the new law. I shall not ask permission and I shall not promise to be celibate. If they want to sack me they can, but they must own up to the kind of people they are.And sacked he was, and Richard has not served as a priest in the church in the eight years since he wrote the article. What has changed since 2005? Same sex marriage will be legal in England, but the church will not ordain persons in same sex marriages, and clergy in same sex relationships are forbidden, in bold text, to contract a civil marriage.
To grow up as a church we need to stop pretending and stop lying. There are hundreds of gay priests, archdeacons and bishops. This is a fact. Those who can't accept it need to leave. Those gay clergy do far more for the Good News of God than the ranting nutters who would reject them. But we need help and support. We need to be looked after. And that has not been happening for a very long time. Until we learn to do so, we have no right to be taken seriously by thoughtful people.
27. The House is not, therefore, willing for those who are in a same sex marriage to be ordained to any of the three orders of ministry. In addition it considers that it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church's teaching in their lives.How long will the blatant hypocrisy continue? Whom do the bishop's believe they are fooling?